Will Levi's apology lead to media corrections?

Michael Calderone

Now he tells us!

Levi Johnston admits that some things he said about the Palin family were “not completely true.” As public apologies go, that's a pretty good start, but it's rather scant on the kind of details that will immediately force news organizations to start issuing corrections.

That's because it's unclear what's untrue. Was it something he wrote in Vanity Fair, told New York magazine, or said on set with Larry King? (Let’s just assume the Playgirl photo shoot was on the level.) Only one man can say for sure.

“Until Levi Johnston specifies what it is he said that isn’t ‘completely true,’ it’s difficult to comment,” a Vanity Fair spokeswoman told Yahoo! News.

Levi wrote a first-person account for Vanity Fair in September that included several supposed revelations, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin plotting to get rich off her newfound fame and wanting to keep her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy a secret.

Bloggers including this one jumped on the salacious story. Top Palin critic Andrew Sullivan followed up by dubbing Johnston "the real rogue of 2009" (rather than the bestselling Palin.)

Sullivan summed up Johnston's story this way: "Palin is a total fraud. She is not what she says she is. According to someone who lived with her for years, who fathered her grandson and fell in love with her daughter, the last thing she is is what her followers blindly believe: authentic.”

Sullivan acknowledged that Johnston’s version of events was “unverifiable,” but for Sullivan, Johnston's account carried more weight than whatever Palin said. Sullivan wrote that "compared with her bizarre, constantly changing stories and multiple lies about any number of empirically indisputable facts, Johnston's monosyllabic yeses and nos and plain English eyewitness accounts that have never changed are like oases of sanity and calm.”

Even now, Sullivan still takes Johnston’s word over Palin’s. “The whole thing seems to me like a way for him to regain access to his son,” he told Yahoo! News. “But one thing we can be sure of: Sarah Palin will never acknowledge a single lie she has told.”

Sullivan added, in a comment similar to Vanity Fair's, that “until he tells what wasn't ‘completely true,’ and until we know why he has changed his tune, there's not much more to say.”

Johnston used to have a lot to say. And the media — whether they were news, politics or celebrity outlets — listened. He appeared on the “CBS Early Show,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Tyra Banks Show,” claiming on the latter that Palin knew he and Bristol were having sex before her pregnancy.

And Johnston didn’t have to fly to studios in New York or Los Angeles to be heard. GQ correspondent John Jeremiah Sullivan spent about a week with Johnston between Anchorage and Wasilla for a 7,700-word profile. Johnston enjoyed a Diet Coke and plate of fried calamari with New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman during a lunch interview in Alaska.

If Johnston wanted to elaborate on what's not true, he probably would have done so in the statement to People magazine. But maybe he's holding out for his oft-mentioned memoir to clear up what’s true and what’s “not completely true.”

Johnston’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment. Representatives for both CBS and CNN both declined comment on how Johnston's statement might affect what he'd told those news organizations.